In conjunction with her CCBC gallery show, we asked artist Amy Gogarty to share with us a bit about herself, her inspiration, her audience and her other projects. In this interview, Amy tells us about her journey as an artist and her passion for ceramics.
All Consuming will be on view in our gallery August 4, 2022.
tell us about yourself
I was born and raised near Philadelphia, PA. I was fortunate to have excellent art instructors in my high school, who encouraged me to pursue a career in art. I lived near the Philadelphia Art Museum and nearly failed to graduate from high school because I cut classes so often to visit the museum.
I immigrated to Canada in 1973, and later attended the Alberta College of Art in Calgary, graduating in Painting 1980. I earned my MFA in Painting from the University of Calgary in 1989, and was hired to teach in Liberal Studies (visual art histories and theories). I exhibited my paintings locally and nationally, and frequently published reviews and essays relating to visual art and craft. While teaching the History of Ceramics, I was encouraged by my students to learn to make ceramics, something that has become central to my practice as an artist.
“Ceramics, in particular, suits my personal approach to making due to its versatility, intellectual demands […], and the sheer pleasure of manipulating clay.“
In 2006, I moved to Vancouver, where I work as an independent artist and writer. I have written, published or presented over 120 essays relating to visual arts, particularly craft and ceramics. I have developed a home studio for my ceramic practice, and have had several opportunities to attend ceramic residencies. My studio and writing practices are closely linked in that I consider craft as a means to inquire into the nature of reality, our responsibilities as citizens, and our relationships each other and the natural world. Ceramics, in particular, suits my personal approach to making due to its versatility, intellectual demands (knowledge of science, materials, processes and techniques), and the sheer pleasure of manipulating clay. My earlier ceramic work was functional. I made the forms, sintered (hardened through low-firing) on a satin glaze, and took the work on my bicycle out to surrounding city parks. Here I would paint scenes of the parks plein-air and fire them, recording relationships between the human and natural world at this specific moment in time. While I continue to make these works in the summer, when it’s pleasant to sit outside and paint, I have begun to make the sculptural work to investigate other interests and concerns.
what first made you want to become an artist?
I have wanted to be an artist as long as I can remember being on this planet. I could say it is because I am not very well suited to much else (for example, I have not ever learned to drive or work a smart phone!) I think it is either in your DNA or it is not. Being an artist is an extraordinary privilege, of which I am very conscious, as it rests on having personal freedom, material and emotional support, and autonomy. I try to take my responsibility as an artist seriously and try to give back to my community and the wider world through my own creative work, writing about others, and volunteer activity with the North-West Ceramics Foundation, on which board I sit.
Ceramics are both visually alluring and tactile. They are also familiar–virtually everyone has ceramic objects in their home. This combination of allure and familiarity draws people to ceramics, something that also encourages me to work in the medium. As a painter, I pay a great deal of attention to colour, surface, and composition. In my ceramic work, I have spent time developing glazes and surface treatments to orchestrate complex responses to combinations of colour, surface and form. While I don’t know for sure how people respond, I hope that they experience strong but nuanced emotional responses to the arrangements of objects, the interplay of shiny and matte, patterned and plain, and to the controlled but hopefully rich range of colour and form.
what do you do when you are not creating? does it feed your practice?
As mentioned, I am on the Board of the North-West Ceramics Foundation, a volunteer organization that works to promote knowledge of and appreciation for ceramics in BC. I also frequently write or present about issues in craft or makers. These activities are very fulfilling and keep me connected to the world. In my personal life, I am a very happy vegan cook, gardener, walker, reader, friend, partner and cat companion. All of these activities make me feel extremely lucky, and all contribute to my desire to make art.
Amy Gogarty is an independent researcher, writer, and artist living on the unceded shared traditional territories of the Coast Salish Peoples, including the territories of the xʷməθkwəy̓əm (Musqueam), Skwxwú7mesh (Squamish), and Səl̓ílwətaʔ/Selilwitulh (Tsleil-Waututh) Nations. She studied at ACA (now AUArts) and the University of Calgary, receiving her MFA in Painting in 1989. She taught histories and theories of visual arts at ACAD in Calgary for sixteen years prior to relocating to Vancouver in 2006. She has exhibited her paintings and ceramics locally and nationally and is the author of over 120 critical essays, reviews, or presentations relating to visual art and craft practice. In 2021, she was named an Honorary Member of NCECA, and she was short-listed for the Canadian Crafts Federation Robert Jekyll Award for Leadership in Craft. She sits on the Board of the North-West Ceramics Foundation and is a passionate supporter of ceramics in British Columbia.